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Showing posts from 2019

Surf's Up for Horizons at Saint David's

Little can top catching a wave to beat the heat on an exceptionally hot summer's day.


Yesterday, as the temperatures soared into the nineties, the Horizons at Saint David's Eighth Grade class traveled to Rockaway Beach with their teachers for surf lessons with New York's premiere surf school, Locals Surf School. The boys have been taking swimming lessons through our program since their first summer with us in 2012.  At that time, they were were rising first graders, and our inaugural cohort of Horizons students.


Yesterday, they were ready to go, and, as these pictures show, they had a blast while learning a new skill.


This is the eighth year of Horizons at Saint David's, a six-week multi-faceted academic and cultural summer experience whose mission is to prevent summer slide in elementary school boys from low-income families. We began the program in conjunction with Saint David's 60th anniversary in 2011, as one way that Saint David's as an institution could…

Graham Family Visits Saint David's

Last week, Thomas Graham’s Great Granddaughter, Madeline Graham, visited with her mother and friends from the neighborhood.  Madeline and her mother, Frances, enjoyed seeing how Saint David's has converted Thomas Graham’s residential hotel into a school. They also were thrilled at the number of our summer camp boys currently using the spaces throughout Graham House.

Other meaningful moments included seeing the “Graham House” mosaic in the lobby and the two framed reprints of advertisements for Thomas Graham’s Hotel, which hang in our basement elevator lobby. Most of all, they expressed appreciation to Saint David's for maintaining the warmth and vibrancy of Graham House in all of the new spaces.


It was wonderful to meet them and made for an incredibly special morning.  Special thanks to our neighbors, Emily and John Andren, for helping coordinate this visit.

Salmanca Study Tour for Saint David's Rising Eighth Graders

Rising eighth graders are enjoying their first days in Spain, on the Salamanca Study Tour. Their teachers report that the boys have already discovered--to their delight--the deliciousness of tortilla de patata and Cola Cao!


During these two weeks in Spain, the boys will spend their mornings in Spanish classes tailored to their individual levels of fluency. Afternoons will feature cultural excursions related to their studies, which immerse them in the life and traditions of Spain. The boys will also have the opportunity to play soccer with a local youth soccer team, enabling them to converse and engage naturally with Spanish peers.


The Spain Summer Study is sponsored by the Spanish provincial government and the University of Salamanca. It is one way that Saint David's provides learning programs that go far beyond 89th Street and widen the lens through which our boys' experience different people, places, and viewpoints.


Saint David's Boys Program Mars Rovers

Sixth graders recently honed their coding and engineering skills using LEGO Mindstorms as they built, programmed, and operated model Mars rovers. Working with partners, they completed a series of challenges that rovers would have to perform on Mars: collect rock samples, launch a satellite, and gather astronauts from one base to transport them to another.


This project harnesses boys' natural intellectual curiosity in active, collaborative, and creative ways. They are free to take risks as they test and revise their designs through the iterative engineering design process. It is challenging and the boys love it!


Here are excerpts from some of their robotics journals:

"I learned how to make the robot follow a line and stop at certain colors. This was very challenging at points, but my partner and I persevered through all of the challenges."

"You have to trust your partner; you can't be afraid to ask for help. Once we asked for help, we were able to fix our prob…

Navy SEAL Bill Berrien '82 Gives Chapel on Service to Saint David's Boys

Former Navy SEAL and Saint David's Alumnus Bill Berrien '82 fascinated all during his Chapel Talk Tuesday morning to our seventh and eighth graders.

A SEAL for nine years, Bill was a member of two platoons in South America as well as part of a Joint Special Operations unit. He shared his SEAL Trident with the boys, talked about the intensity of training, and noted he remains close to many with whom he served.


Connecting his service to the values that Saint David's espouses, he encouraged the boys to always be students--curious throughout their lives, to find the best in everyone, appreciate setbacks, and to learn from failures. In the video above, he addresses the first.

He closed by planting these "seeds" for our boys to consider: that life is a journey to be embraced broadly with openness to a variety of opportunities; being a service leader is of utmost importance; the unknown should be embraced; and, finally, that the boys be their own best friend, compassi…

NY Giant Justin Tuck Inspires at Saint David's Networking Event

New York Giant, philanthropist, financier and author Justin Tuck was the guest speaker for Saint David's Networking Event, held last week in our Otto-Bernstein Performing Arts Theatre.

Justin shared with us the story of his recruitment to Notre Dame and credited his success and fortune to having been prepared to take advantage of an opportunity when it presented, and even moreso to having had the support of "the right people in my life who steered me the right way. The only reason I am the man I am is that I had the fortune of having other men and women who could guide me." These included a father who impressed upon him that the only value in being powerful or successful is the good that you can effect with it.


Motivated throughout his life by his faith, family, a thirst for knowledge and love for athletics, Justin noted that the values of Saint David's resonated deeply with him and that our school is "making the ball more in the right direction early" f…

Saint David's Seventh Graders See "To Kill a Mockingbird" on Broadway

Our seventh graders, having recently studied Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird in English class, were thrilled to see the new stage version live on Broadway last week with their teachers. The boys were captivated by the show, which prompted thoughtful questions and comments afterward.


Post show, they were treated to a special talk-back led by cast members. The discussion explored the ways in which the play differs from the novel and how Aaron Sorkin's writing addresses important current-day issues and dynamics. The school is grateful to current parent Tom Kitt and To Kill A Mockingbird company manager Megan Curren for arranging the talk-back.


Taking advantage of New York City's cultural institutions enhances the learning that occurs within the classroom. Undoubtedly, yesterday's show enabled characters from the book to come alive in new and possibly unexpected ways for our boys. All of this deepens thinking and critical analysis of ideas and issues.
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Spring Concert

Our boys in the Philharmonic Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, and Chamber Singers performed at this year's spring concert with talent, exuberance, and passion. With our new theater's acoustics allowing notes and voices to soar, the program featured a diversity of works from composers such as Bizet, Rachmaninoff, Journey, Vivaldi, and Woody Guthrie (and a couple of fun sing-alongs, too)!


What a joy to begin a beautiful spring day experiencing the fruits of our boys' many hours of practice, their dedication to their music, to their fellow musicians, and to their school. We embrace the ideal of balance at Saint David's and believe a boy should fully express and realize his potential for good in several facets of life: as a scholar, artist, athlete, and moral person. Our strong music program is a prime example of that conviction.


The Capstone Arco Project in Eighth Grade Humanities

ARCO is the final summary project in our eighth graders' humanities class; a signature learning experience that infuses scholarship with history, art, analysis and rhetoric. For this competition, boys create an original piece of art that is inspired by a famous artist's work. They write a brief biography of the artist and a reflection on the process they used to create their piece.


Last Monday, the boys presented their projects to a panel of judges consisting of teachers and art professionals. That evening, the boys' families attended a reception, the Salon de diplomes, in which the boys commented on their work. The winners will be announced prior to graduation.


I am always impressed by the maturity of our boys as  I listen to each speak with confidence about his project--explaining why he selected a certain artist or work, analyzing the approach he took, the problems he encountered along the way, and the lessons he learned. Soon these young men will be Saint David's…

Pre-K Boys at Saint David's Experience the Journey of Food from Farm to Table

“From Seeds to Supper” is Pre-Kindergarten's yearlong study about where food comes from and the journey it takes from farm to table. Through dramatic play and hands-on activities, our boys learn and experience all aspects of this process.

This study is active and multi-faceted. After planting seeds in their own classroom garden, the boys carefully observe as the roots take hold and the sprouts shoot upward. They come to appreciate the time and care needed for fruits and vegetables to grow, while dramatic play offers the ideal conduit to highlight their understanding of the farm-to-table process. They "harvest" vegetables from their  “garden farm” and shuttle them to their classroom store where they are purchased for the Pre-K pizzeria. All of this also allows for vocabulary and social connections to shine.

The “From Seeds Supper” movie, see clip above, captures these moments in a medium that the boys delight in as they display all that they have learned.


Horizons at Saint David's Celebrates!

I would like to share this update from Meg Sheridan, Executive Director of Horizons at Saint David's, about Horizons' recent anniversary celebration:


Close to 200 people gathered to celebrate Horizons at Saint David’s at our third annual Cinco de Mayo event, held May 8th at the Museum of the City of New York. Current Saint David's parents, past Saint David's parents, and Horizons parents all came out to show their support. It was a great night for Horizons!

Two of our rising 7th graders shared their experiences at Horizons. Both joined Horizons right after kindergarten. The boys attend different schools and they see each other every summer at Horizons. Their fast friendship is a good illustration of our Horizons community. Horizons is a tight family of teachers, students and their families.


The evening raised important funds for Horizons. Bidders won a coveted Horizons cap. The bidding was so spirited we ran out of caps! Thank you one and all for your support of Horizo…

On the Run for Ethiopia School Project!

Saint David's seventh and eighth graders bounded out of 12 East 89th Street today to cheers and high-fives by our youngest, as they kicked off our series of Dollars for Ethiopian Scholars walkathons.

Each year, eighth graders spearhead a school-wide effort to provide educational resources to Ethiopian boys and girls. The initiative began in 2011 with the building of the Saint David's Kalina School in Tigray through Saint David's partnership with Save the Children.

This year, the boys are raising money for a new Saint David's addition to a school in Ala'sa. The project involves construction of a two-room block addition to the current school there, which, when completed, will serve 188 boys and girls in Grades Five and Six. Without the addition, the children would need to travel five miles by foot to get to the next nearest school.


Eighth graders, with Mr. Ryan guiding them, are in charge of organizing and running all of the fundraisers: the basketball and soc…

A Record Year for Saint David's Boys' Pennies for Puppies Project

Initiated in 2005 by parents Connie Hays (R.I.P.) and Sally Connolly, Saint David's fourth graders work each year on behalf of The Seeing Eye Foundation through the Pennies for Puppies project. The Seeing Eye's mission is to enhance the independence, dignity, and self-confidence of people who are blind, through the use of trained guide dogs.


This multifaceted project begins with a visit to The Seeing Eye Foundation's headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey, where the boys tour the facility, visit with people and their guide dogs, and learn about all that goes into the dogs' training.



They then collect donations and execute a bake sale in our lobby, for which they do all the work: the baking, advertising, pricing, and selling. This year's bake sale, held last week, raised a record $3,106.


In yesterday's special Assembly, fourth graders presented a check to Mr. Don MacGowan, Volunteer Coordinator for The Seeing Eye. Mr. MacGowan engaged the boys in a discussion…

Solar System Model and Rocket Launch in Pre-K STEAM Unit

Our Pre-K STEAM boys recently completed an exploration of the solar system through a hands-on, multi-faceted unit that integrates art and science and is a perfect example of the ways boys learn best.

The unit's purpose is to elicit the boys' knowledge about planets and the sun while dispelling common misconceptions, and to have the boys come to understand how humans are able to learn about objects that are so far away.


Once facts about the solar system were discussed and understood through teacher-led readings and viewing of NASA video footage and images, the boys put their new knowledge about the sun and planets to work, using tissue paper and decoupage to build a model of the sun in its three-dimensional fiery form. They later created a paper-mache solar system that featured details in colors and texture to match those of NASA images. As an example, the boys cut and hand colored chunks of "rocky and icy debris" to simulate the rings of Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.


Broadway Bound - Saint David's Boys and Marymount Girls

The musical, about dreams, was a dream come true for us at Saint David's: the first production done in collaboration with Marymount School on the stage of our new Otto-Bernstein Performing Arts Theatre.


Last night, Saint David's After School Broadway Bound class performed Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for the Saint David's and Marymount communities. The production was, well, Amazing, in all respects: the lighting, costumes, set design, staging, and, of course, the performances by the cast of talented Saint David's boys and Marymount girls who participated in our new Broadway Bound After School program this spring.


The shared experience not only resulted in a Tony-worthy show, but the opportunity for our boys to collaborate with girls from Marymount and to benefit from the personal growth the comes from working hard on a production, and stretching beyond one's comfort zone.


Kudos to the cast members and creative team for putting on a spectacular …